mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 Noms are 9 Sep - 16 Sep.

Am thinking about my noms.   I have some things I'm toying with.
  • Duel after the Masquerade. (definite)  I mean, holy shit.  My favorite story painting ever.
  • Wanderer Above The Sea of Fog.   I am amused to note that autocomplete caught "romantic man on cliff".  The problem is that all the action would be in the request: there isn't a plot, there's just a person.
  • "Locksley Hall" from the woman's point of view.
  • Anne Bonney/Mary Read femslash.
More thinking to come.

mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
How to really, REALLY piss off the FDA

Theranos purported to be a company that could do bloodwork from a pinprick rather than from IV blood draws. This claim earned them billions of dollars in VC and got its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, who dropped out of Harvard to pursue her idea, on the cover of multiple magazines. As of last fall, she was (on paper) worth $4.5 billion.

The only problem is, Theranos’ technology didn’t work. At all. Last fall Medicaid reviewed the lab results for warfarin testing . This test determines whether the blood thinner you’re taking will make you bleed to death. It’s kind of a crucial test that way. All 81 results Medicare reviewed were wrong. Every single one.

The FDA formal letter revoking Theranos’ certification is available at the New York Times. It is a thing of beauty.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/07/08/business/document-Theranos-Sanctions-Letter.html
Just a sample for your delight:

D2094
... The April 1, 2016 letter accompanying the second submission states that "documentation explains how the laboratory came to its conclusions regarding patient outcomes (Ex JJ, Tab 3A)".  However, Ex JJ, Tab 3A simply states: "Patient Impact: Based on PT investigation, no patient impact," and does not say how the laboratory came to its conclusions that no patients were affected.

mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Cheerful Uber driver, picking me up: "Have you had your ten thousand steps today?"
Me: "I'm disabled."
Him: "But you still need to exercise!"

Turns out he was a newly-certified personal trainer. I commented that as the disability came on, I'd been very grateful for a trainer who knew my limitations.

Cheerful driver: "You still need to do perfect reps! Just at 75% intensity!"

Very glad he's not *my* trainer.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
My daughter spotted this evening that Shadow had something wrong with his neck and fluid all over his fur. We sprinted him off to the emergency vet, and it turned out that an abscess had burst. Common in cats, nothing to worry about, but it had to be cleaned so that it would heal properly. By the time they finished diagnosing him, Shadow had had enough of this bullshit and was squatting on the table hissing and growling. He had previously put up with the rectal thermometer with surprising grace, bless him.

He had to be sedated to have the wound cleared out. My daughter brought him home very groggy and out of it. Once he woke up enough to be hungry, he ate some stinky tuna and went to sleep. In his dish. We picked him up and scooted him away from his dish. He ate some more and fell asleep. In his dish. We eventually decided that a sick cat got to sleep in his catfood if he wanted to. The wound wasn't in contact with the food.

Meanwhile, he has a big lump of missing skin where "necrotic tissue had to be debrided" (sounds so much better than it looks), but no Cone of Shame. Apparently we just keep him inside and let his immune system do its thing; the skin would be likely to abscess again if either stitched or bandaged.

Silly drunken cat.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
MEEEEE!
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 Those of you who knew me way back when know that I used to do a lot of canning.  Now, canning requires standing for long periods in front of a stove that contains one pan of boiling jelly or jam, one stockpot full of boiling water to process the jam in, one stockpot full of boiling water containing sterilized jars, and a small pot full of lids in hot water.

This is beyond me, and has been for awhile.   However, the Ball company have invented a single-purpose widget that has changed my life.   It's called the "Freshtech", and it does one thing: heat a pan of fruit, sugar, and pectin, while rotating a blade to keep it from sticking to the bottom.  Those of you who read the Guardian know that Rhik Samadder hated it.    I bought another single-purpose widget, a Victorinox steam canner.  Instead of submerging jars in boiling water for 10-15 minutes, you place them above boiling water in a sealed container, so that they are heated by steam.   This has recently been proven to be safe for jelly and jam.

Old jelly-making process:
  1. Wash all jars and lids; place jars and lids in separate containers of water, bring to a boil.
  2. Fill your canner with water and bring it to a boil.   Your canner is bigger than the biggest stockpot you own, and is also the sort of vessel you use for a shrimp boil.
  3. Prepare your fruit.
  4. Dump your fruit and sugar into a wide flat pan and stir over heat until it appears to be jelled.  This takes at least 30 minutes, at a stove covered in boiling vessels.
  5. Get boiling jar out.
  6. Ladle boiling fruit into boiling jar.
  7. Place boiling lids on boiling jar.
  8. Place boiling jar into boiling canner, carefully keeping it from touching any other jar
  9. Repeat 5-7 until you're out of jam.
  10. Leave jam in boiling water for processing time, somewhere between 10-15 minutes.
  11. Remove jam from boiling water and let cool in draft-free place.
  12. (die)
New process:
  1. Put jars in dishwasher, run.  (I have just discovered that this is perfectly safe.)  Handwash lids, put in warm water.  It doesn't have to be boiling, just hot enough that the jars don't get heat shock.
  2. Prepare fruit.
  3. Put commercial pectin in bottom of jam thingy.
  4. Put fruit on top of jam thingy.
  5. Push button.  
  6. 4 minutes later, jam thingy beeps.  Add sugar, cup by cup.
  7. Put top on jam thingy.
  8. While jam thingy is doing its thing, fill bottom of steam canner with water (this is about 3 inches deep) and bring to 185.
  9. Jam thingy beeps done.  Remove jam jars from dishwasher.
  10. Fill jars and place lids, as before; however, the only thing that's boiling is the jam.
  11. Place jars -- all four of them, which is IMHO the perfect number -- on steam canner.  Place lid -- oh, blessed lid! -- on steam canner.
  12. Watch for steam canner to hit designated temperature.
  13. Sit for 10-15 minutes.
  14. Remove lid from steam canner and watch steam rise through vent hood.
  15. Remove jars from canner and place somewhere to cool.
  16. Done.
In the new, improved version, you spend much much less time on your feet, and much much less time over a boiling stove.   This gadget wouldn't be at all what you wanted if you were working at scale; if you're putting up a year's worth of raspberry jam, forget it.   However, for making enough jam for a small household without steaming up the kitchen, it's perfect.

Today's inaugural batch was raspberry-blackberry with one strawberry.  Tomorrow or Wednesday there'll be strawberry.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 We hit it off.  You're fun to talk to, you meet me at my level, and you've figured out what I want to learn and how to get there.  You're a good dude.  I look forward to learning from you.

"You don't LOOK disabled!" is never, ever an appropriate thing to say.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
I am about to do paid work in order to procrastinate on writing fic. 
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 Good news:  If you want to know what half the people you know are posting about, you can watch Eurovision live on LOGO, if your cable channel carries it.
Bad news:  it has American commentators.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 I was reading Jessica Kiang's essay on why Inside Llewyn Davis was a great subversive movie (quite correct) when I ran into this:

So is it just a conspiracy of dumb luck and bad timing and unfortunate, butter-side-down decision-making that prevents Llewyn from being the guy the New York Times discovers that night in the Gaslight? Or does Llewyn fail because, on some level too deep for him to acknowledge, he has stopped believing he will succeed? 

No.  No, it isn't.   The talent agent in Chicago is absolutely right -- Davis is wrapped up in the song, but he's not a performer.  Part of the problem is that Llewyn Davis does the same thing over and over and over again, hoping that this time it will work.   "It's never new, and it's never old; that's what makes it a folk song."

On that night that begins and ends the movie, Dylan started breaking folk music.  Here's the review from the Times

But if not for every taste, his music-making has the mark of originality and inspiration, all the more noteworthy for his youth. Mr. Dylan is vague about his antecedents and birthplace, but it matters less where he has been than where he is going, and that would seem to be straight up.

I love poor Llewyn a lot, but he is not original.   If Llewyn had gotten that chance that Dylan got, there wouldn't have been the review, and there wouldn't have been the astonishing career.   Llewyn was on the old path of folk music; Dylan blasted a new.  Llewyn missed the performance, but he wasn't remotely capable of giving that performance, and that's his tragedy.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 Needlepoint.  Crewel.  Candlewicking. Cross stitch.

Learn the difference.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 I was trying to identify a Victorian houseplant, "musk";  readers of Stalky and Company will remember that our heroes smashed the loathsome King's plant.  Musk was notorious for its wonderful fragrance; therefore I must acquire  it for my garden.    I did a lot of Googling and eventually decided the particular musk, based on scale, had to be Mimulus moschatus.    I couldn't find it for sale commercially, and the scientific writeups didn't mention the fragrance.

A little more Googling and I found out why.   Sometime before the nineteen-teens, commercial musk stopped smelling.    There are several reputable references in both the scientific literature and in gardening essays, all of which agree that musk used to be ubiquitous in windowboxes and gardens, but that the writers hadn't smelled it in years, even though the plants continued to be available.   Nobody's found a scented wild musk, either.   The plants live on, but the fragrance is unattainable.

Scientists' best guess is that the original musk collected from the wild was a rare scented variant, now, as far as we know, extinct.  The nurserymen who were propagating musk somehow selected for a scentless strain, probably by emphasizing some other plant quality, and within a generation or two, the scent gene was lost in cultivation as well.

mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 I've been enjoying reading Catherine Horwood's Potted History: The Story of Plants in the Home.  Overall, I've learned a lot, although as usual there's a strong focus on the nobility and the middle classes, with the working class surfacing briefly for discussions of geraniums, florists' flowers, and charitable works.   By Chapter 12 on p.150 the author has visibly run out of steam, and begins rushing through the 20th century.  There's a paragraph on WWI from the perspective of an indoor-plant nursery, after which she claims that post-war middle-class homes switched their attention from indoor gardening to outdoor (males) and cut flowers (females).   I get that conservatories were Right Out, but Horwood claims that between WWI and WWII the only widespread houseplants were cactus and rubber-plant.   "These, said the Architectural Review in 1952, had become the clichés of the 1920s and 1930s as much as the aspidistra had been of the Victorian era."

This casts a new light on the enormous cactus in Busman's Honeymoon: it's surprisingly modern and chic for the crusty and cheap old bachelor who owned the house.

According to Horwood, other indoor plants returned to favor only when a fad was imported from Scandinavia in the late 1940s (with an assist from Constance Spry).

Does this seem plausible to you?  I get that plant fashions come and go, but the idea that for twenty-five-something years the plant-loving Britons grew nothing indoors but forced bulbs, cactus, and rubber-plant comes as a surprise.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 Not only are you watching Doctor Who, at least half of your mind is cursing out the appallingly bad safety design of the undersea mining station.  Come on, guys, hire a consultant!
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
The Antioch Review, America's oldest continuously-produced literary journal, chose to run an essay called "The Sacred Androgen: The Transgender Debate" by Daniel Harris. (Harris is the author of  Diary of a Drag Queen, in which he discovers that he is no longer young and handsome enough to attract other gay men, but that if he cross-dresses he can attract "straight" men. )  If you want to see Harris's badly-written anti-transperson rant, it's here. You Have Been Warned. Many transpeople have already laid out, in detail, why this rant is both bigoted and factually incorrect. Before (if) you read the following, read what Gabrielle Bellot, a transperson, has to say.

In response to the anger, Antioch College issued a statement that said, in part, " Antioch College does not condone or always agree with the ideas and viewpoints expressed in the Review. We do, however, have confidence in the Review’s editor and editorial process, and support a key Antiochian value -- the free expression of ideas and opinions, even when they run counter to our own. As a college, we encourage our students, faculty and the broader community to engage in critical thought and dialogue around important issues, including this one."

"Critical thought" has a meaning. It does not encompass "a core dump of unexamined prejudice presented as fact." For an essay to represent critical thought, it must first and foremost be an essay, not a blog post. An essay has a thesis; each paragraph must be connected to the previous and following paragraphs, unless that paragraph is specifically noted as starting a new argument. A hypothetical "critical thought" anti-transpeople essay ought, at a minimum, to meet this standard in order to be published in a literary magazine.

Let's examine the first five paragraphs of this "essay". I'm summarizing with bonus snark.
  1. Transpeople (referred to as "TGs" for some reason; I'm not going to reproduce this tic further) are human.
    1. It sucks to be them because violence, murder, HIV, unemployment, ...
    2. "Many commentators" have said they ought to have civil rights which ought to be addressed by both "politicians and everyday citizens."
  2. Transgender people are mean to cis people by expecting cis people to change their behavior.
    1. They have "entangled us in a snare of such trivialities as the proper pronouns with which to address them, protocol as Byzantine and patronizing as the etiquette for addressing royalty. They insult us with the pejorative term “cisgender,” which they use to describe those of us who accept, however unenthusiastically (it. mine.) , our birth gender, as opposed to the enlightened few who question their sex. Moreover, they shame us into silence by ridiculing the blunders we make while trying to come to grips with their unique dilemmas, decrying our curiosity about their bodies as prurience and our unwillingness, or even inability, to enter into their own (often unsuccessful) illusion as narrow‑mindedness."
      1. [I can't even].
  3. Janet Mock was mean to Pierce [sic] Morgan. "Mock organized a kind of witch hunt in which she accused the liberal and tolerant [citation needed] Pierce Morgan of having, in her words, “misgendered” her merely because he had questioned her about her past and leapt to the conclusion—medical records would surely bear this out—that she had in her youth changed her gender."
    1. Cis people are being oppressed.
    2. You can't tell cis people what to think. "TGs cannot expect to dictate to us the terms of the discussion, for we are thinking people, too, and nothing, notwithstanding many activists’ attempts to embarrass us into uncritical consensus, can stop us from thinking our thoughts. " Here are my thoughts.
  4. Trans plastic surgery is different from other kinds of plastic surgery.
    1. Everybody hates other kinds of plastic surgery anyway.
    2. Donatella Versace's, Tara Reid's, and Kim Novak's bodies are especially gross. I note in particular Tara Reid's breasts.
  5. [topic sentence] Michael Jackson's face was gross, too.
    1. "And yet what is the actual difference between Michael Jackson whittling his nose down to a brittle sliver of bone and whitening his skin with alpha hydroxy acid and arsenic in order to efface his blackness and the TG sanding down her brow bone and hacking off a sizeable chunk of her mandible in order to efface her gender?
This is not an essay. This is incoherent core-dump bigotry. No competent literary editor would ever have printed it unless they shared its bigotry. There is no other reason to print it. The university cannot hide behind "confidence in the Review’s editor and editorial process" when the Review made an objectively bad editorial decision, as evaluated by the usual standards of writing, independent of the usual standards of everyday decency.
Postscript.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 Ted Cruz just name-checked Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail".    He ought to have his mouth washed out with soap.   
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
9/11 memorial: Security guard shouldn't have silenced choir
NEW YORK (AP) — Officials at the Sept. 11 memorial said Monday that one of their security guards shouldn't have stopped a North Carolina middle school choir from singing the national anthem on the memorial plaza.
"The guard did not respond appropriately," said the spokeswoman, Kaylee Skaar. "We are working with our security staff to ensure that this does not happen again with future student performances."

...
[Teacher] Brown said her students learned from the experience. "We turned it into a teaching moment and taught them that even if you don't agree with it, or understand it, you must respect authority," she said.
Putnam echoed the sentiment.
"The lesson learned here is always to respect authority," the principal said in a telephone interview. "And I'm so proud of our kids for conducting themselves the way they did."

That right there. That is called authoritarianism, and we've got a lot of it.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Someday I am going to track down the person or persons who recommended pink knotweed as a ground cover and there will be no survivors.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
In the Guardian:

Filming for the three new episodes has begun and features Sherlock Holmes, played by Cumberbatch, back in the UK, with Doctor Watson, played by Martin Freeman, and his wife Mary preparing to become parents.

 
You don't say.  In other news, Rachel Talalay will become the first woman to direct Sherlock.

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